With Many People Really Broke, CBS Debuts Sitcom Called 'Broke'

A new CBS sitcom called “Broke” could be criticized on a variety of levels, but for various reasons, this show gets a pass.

Among other attributes, it is surprisingly inoffensive -- which represents an achievement for a new network sitcom these days. Instead, the characters are actually likable -- which is also something you do not often see in prime-time comedies.

“Broke” premieres Thursday night on CBS. It stars Pauley Perrette (a CBS star from her many seasons on “NCIS”) as a single mother with a 9-year-old boy.

She works as a bartender and is barely making ends meet when her estranged sister and her husband suddenly turn up at her doorstep needing a place to live.

It seems that they were once filthy rich, but the husband -- an heir to a Mexican fortune -- has had his money spigot suddenly turned off by his tycoon father. They represent the “Broke” in the title, but so does the Perrette character.



This show’s title and its premise are eligible for criticism in the following ways: The title “Broke” seems so similar to “Two Broke Girls” (which was also on CBS) that the network runs the risk of sowing confusion.

In addition, this plot premise -- in which some rich relatives go broke and then freeload on their kin -- is already being done on the NBC sitcom “Indebted,” which debuted in February. “Broke” is a lot better than “Indebted,” however.

Plus, while seeking to confirm the spelling of Pauley Perrette’s name on Tuesday in the process of writing this TV Blog, I learned that she is 50 years old. I am not sure of this, but the single-mom character she is playing in the show is probably supposed to be a lot younger.

Regardless of the age difference, Pauley pulls it off, however. At no point during the watching of two episodes of “Broke” did I ever think she was too long in the tooth to play this role.

In fact, watching two episodes of a new sitcom is a rare occasion for me. Usually, I give up on most network sitcoms after struggling through just one. This time, however, I liked “Broke” enough to watch Episode 2.

One of the first things I noticed was that no one made any childish jokes about their private parts in the entire two episodes. Isn’t it incredible? Stop the presses. No one says “penis” or “vagina” in a network TV sitcom and this qualifies as big news.

Generally speaking, “Broke” is a pleasant, lighthearted TV comedy. Through no fault of its own, however, it does feel disconnected from the world in which it will make its debut this week.

On the show, the characters do “normal” things. The bartender bartends, the boy goes to school, people are seen ride-sharing, and an outing is planned to Six Flags. Remember that world? It was the one we all lived in up to about three weeks ago.

Worst of all, in the wake of the pandemic, many people in the real world are broke.

Under the circumstances, should CBS have waited a while to introduce a comedy series called “Broke”? Like so many other questions arising in all of our lives now, the answer to that question is elusive.

“Broke” premieres Thursday (April 2) at 9:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS.

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